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Can Marketers Really Generate Sales on Social Media?

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At last week’s MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum, Andrew Davis had the crowd roaring with laughter as he impersonated a marketer with a fresh piece of content.

“Let’s put it on the blog!” he exclaimed.

“Let’s put it on Facebook! And Twitter! And Pinterest! And Flickr! And Google+, for the two people still using it.”

It was funny, because for a lot of marketers, it’s true. Too many of us fall victim to the “spray and pray” approach to social media marketing. We push our content anywhere we can get it, and cross our fingers hoping one of these posts turn into an engagement, a new relationship, a sale. That’s why I was so excited to attend the session titled “How to Use Social Media to Generate Actual Sales”, led by social media gurus John Foley Jr. and Karen DeWolf of InterlinkOne.

The Difference between Social Media Marketing and Prospecting

The duo began by explaining the difference between social media marketing and social media prospecting, and the importance of using both in an on-going social strategy.

Social Media Marketing: This is very much a content based approach. We, as marketers, push out content that we hope people are going to consume; and usually we hope they somehow get to our website and become a lead. While it’s important to make sure your company has a steady stream of information going out on social, the “spray and pray” technique will not effectively drive revenue. Here are the three attributes John and Karen use to describe social media marketing:

  • Publishing educational and contextual content for the purpose of brand awareness
  • Primary focus: acquisition of more social followers, generation of inbound
  • Listening for purpose of customer service and reputation management

Social Media Prospecting: The differentiator here is one-to-one engagement. You conduct sales by finding your customer’s problem and then solving it. You do that by listening and having conversations, which can be conducted on social media. The three attributes John and Karen use to describe social media prospecting are as follows:

  • It’s a simple process: gather, qualify, refine, retarget
  • Primary focus: reaching and connecting with targeted customers and prospects
  • Listening for purposes of lead generation for sales, solving problems, thus driving additional revenue

When a company is interesting in utilizing social media to drive revenue, social media prospecting is the winning strategy.

The Social Media Marketing Struggle is Real

One of the biggest realizations I had walking away from this session was the fact that even though social media marketing has existed now for over five years, for many marketers the social media marketing struggle is still very real. And it’s not for lack of trying. It’s because social media is an ever-changing environment; there are new tools, new social platforms, and new tactics clashing with old-school misconceptions and unproven “best practices.”

Luckily, John and Karen saved the day, answering the audience’s most pressing social media marketing questions. Here are a few of the questions from the audience, and their expert answers.

Q: How do you get the sales team involved in social prospecting?

John: You need to get C-suite buy-in. Educate these folks. Find some content with statistics that prove a methodology and share it with them.

Q: When it comes to social bios, do you think it’s more effective to describe your personal or professional passions?

Karen: You have to humanize your brand (company or personal brand). Have a mixture of professional and personal insight into yourself. You might start a new relationship in an online experience, but people still buy from people.

Q: What are some good examples of B2B brands with successful social marketing programs?

John: Cannon… IMB… BMC… Dell…. There are actually quite a lot of great B2B examples out there.

Closing out the session, John and Karen provided some actionable tips to support the sales funnel and ultimately drive revenue through social media. Below are some of the quick social media marketing tips from the pros.

4 Tips to Improve Your Bottom Line

  1. Prospecting: As mentioned earlier, social media prospecting is more about listening, less about shouting your message. Work to build new relationships and support existing relationships on the social channels your audience is most likely to use.
  2. Pre-call research: Before a sales representative picks up the phone, they should spend some time researching the prospect via social media. Pre-call research can help uncover recent news about the prospective company, mutual acquaintances or common passions.
  3. Following-up: If you hit a road block contacting a prospect by phone or email, try following up with a message on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
  4. Maintaining long lasting relationships with customers: It’s far more cost-effective to sell a product or service to an existing customer, than someone you don’t have a relationship with. Use social media to stay in touch with your customers, send helpful articles their way and engage with their posts to keep the relationship embers burning.

Turn Social Media Into A Revenue Driver

This interactive and engaging session spawned amazing questions and conversations amongst the audience. It became clear that for many marketers, social media marketing remains a hot topic of discussion, and Karen and John expertly guided the audience through actionable tips to transition social media into a revenue driver.

Let’s keep the conversation going on our blog. Comment below or tweet us at @TopRank to share your unanswered social media marketing question.


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